A warehouse management company could not show that it is covered by the exclusivity provision of the New York Workers Compensation Act in a lawsuit filed by a man injured on its premises.
Mendoza v. Enchante Accessories Inc., The New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division, Second Department of Brooklyn on Wednesday unanimously affirmed a jury decision allocating 25% of the accident to the warehouse manager.
In February 2008, Jesus Mendoza worked for EDS Distribution Services on a warehouse handled by Enchante Accessories Inc. when he fell from a warehouse picker and sustained injuries.
He filed a complaint against Enchante, arguing that the company had control over the training and use of storage equipment and safety devices and that the company's negligence led to his accident.
Enchante claimed that EDS had control and management of the warehouse and that Mr Mendoza's decision not to carry a safe because the belt was the only immediate cause of his accident.
A jury found that Enchante exercised control of the warehouse and that the negligence of the company was a major factor in the accident. The jury allocated 25% of the responsibility for the accident to Enchante.
Enchante moved for judgment as a matter of law to dismiss the complaint or set aside the judgment. A court denied the motion and the company appealed.
The Court of Appeal affirmed the denial of Enchantes' motion and found that the testimony of a manager and employee supported Mr. Mendosa's claim that Enchante monitored and controlled the inventory work and the security devices used.
Mr. Mendoza also provided evidence that workers were not always required to use seat belts when operating the bearing picking machine and that belts were not always available.
The Court held that the jury rationally concluded that Enchantes' failure to provide proper education and seat belts was a significant factor contributing to Mr. Mendoza's injuries.
The Court of Appeal also noted that Enchante failed to provide evidence to refute the testimony of Mr. Mendoza's witnesses and failed to show any evidence that Mr Mendoza's claims against the company were excluded by the exclusivity provision of the Workers' Compensation Act.